February 19, 2009

Economical Bourbon Reviews, Part II: Early Times

Ok, I know, I know. Technically Early Times is not a bourbon, but a Kentucky Whiskey (well, "Whisky" as labelled) on account of some of it being aged in used barrels. However, in the spirit of thriftiness, I thought it deserved a place in the economical bourbon review series. After all, in trying times rules must be bent.

Early Times, as the label will tell you, was established in 1860. The distillery was founded by Jim Beam's uncle, John, and has since passed to the Brown-Forman Company. It is now made in Shively, KY and was wildly popular in the 1950's. Early Times has recently enjoyed a lot of success abroad, as an export.

Neat: ET is darker than one might think, being an amber-brown. The nose is vanilla, vanilla, vanilla with some caramel and slight citrus. It encourages you to taste it. Mouthfeel is more oily than Ancient Age, and has a greater presence. Early Times' taste has a honey sweetness, with undertones of leather. It is a much bigger taste than Ancient Age but is not overwhelming at all. I enjoy its simplicity, as if it's proud to be uncomplicated. It finishes in a hurry and treads lightly with only a timid burn. I thought it was very satisfying.

Whiskey Sour: Early Times makes a great whiskey sour. There isn't much analysis to be done here; when mixed, it makes a whiskey sour taste like you'd hope one would. It's easy to drink, making the glass hard to put down until you're done.

Early Times is surprisingly tasty. It's low prices belies its quality, and if I drank it blind, I'm not sure if I wouldn't be tricked into thinking it was a higher-priced whiskey. At bars, ET is usually relegated to the rail, but compared to its company at that class of drink, it is definitely an over-achiever. An outstanding value that has earned its place on a bourbon blog.

16 comments:

  1. sipping one now. it's kinda yummy.

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  2. O.K. went out and bought a bottle of Early Times today since Old Grand Dad (OGD) was not available. I was very surprised and impressed with OGD and drank it warm, with no ice since it was so smooth. Long story short - if I started drinking Early Times as my first whiskey (or whisky), I probably would not have tried another whiskey or bourbon. I can drink it, but there is something in the taste that I do not care for.

    I am curious why you find Early Times appealing. I am not challenging you, but I am just trying to place the flavor that offends me. I love rye whiskeys and my favorite bourbon is Wild Turkey.

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  3. I have been drinking bourbon virtually daily for 35 years. My baseline has been JB white and I have tried JD, OGD, WT and beyond that I have only recientley switched to MM. Here I am sipping on some ET and I like it! Perhaps it was the label that scared me all these years. BTW it's August in Scottsdale 110 today.
    -Bronson

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  4. I think your review is right on, I like ET neat and love. At its price point, it can't be beat.

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  5. I was first introduced to Early Times at an all you can drink free party when I asked for Bourbon. It was very good with ginger ale (that's called a Toolbelt according to the ET website). I had plenty that night and woke up early the next morning feeling great. ET has been my drink since. I also like to drink shots with a glass of ice water to sip. I look so happy when I am drinking my ET that all my friends eventually say they want what I am having and they are always surprised at the great taste and how easy it goes down.

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  6. Sorry I'm so late to this party. I don't pretend to be an expert on spirits, but to me Early Times is like a mellowed Canadian Mist, and is not on par with Evan Williams, and where I purchase my liquor, they're about the same price. It will probably still be good for cooking and mixing, I'm having some in my tea right now, but as for neat, I'd just assume drink Canadian Whiskey.

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  7. I've got a bottle of both Early Times and Evan Williams in front of me. The Early Times does have an off flavor to me. The Evan Williams tastes like bourbon. Not the best bourbon but, at $12.99 for 1.75 liters, it's not bad. I won't be drinking the ET neat or on the rocks, although it's not bad in a Manhattan. The EW can be drank straight from a flask, if that's how you like your whiskey.

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  8. I first tried Early Times at a house party. I was drinking malt 40s (I liked the heavy taste, just a preference) and had always like Jack Daniels a bit. My friend told me that Jack Daniels was disgusting and to try some Early Times. I was hesitant to put down my beer and try it but I bite and it was great! I made some Bourbon and Cokes with it and that made it even better! Overall its a great whisky. If your stomach cant handle hard pops mix this with some water and you'll be in love.

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  9. Been drinking Early Times for at least 8yrs now. Was skeptical at first about trying it. But it quickly made me a firm believer. Friends laugh and ask. How do you go from Crown to that? But I must say it is so underesttimated for the price! You just cant beat it for the taste and quality you receive!

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  10. I bought my son a bottle of ET on a trip stateside from Canada. He loves Crown Royal, Canadian whisky. We both like this and at the price point IMHO it's a great deal!!!!

    Sammy

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  12. I bought a 750 ml bottle of Early Times last night for about $10.00

    Not bad. Tonight is my second night drinking this whiskey. I poured 100 ml of early times into a tall glass, then added iced tea until 3/4 full. Stirred in 2 packets of equal sweetener, then finished filling up the glass with ice. Has a good spice to it, not as strong a spice as some of the bourbons out there, and not quite as mellow as the Canadian whiskeys.

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  13. "then added iced tea until 3/4 full. Stirred in 2 packets of equal sweetener, then finished filling up the glass with ice"... Just curious how you can even taste the whiskey with all that extra junk in there?

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  14. I have been drinking Early Times for about five years now. I haven't found a comparable whiskey that matches its flavor for the price. Every now an then I will splurge on a bottle of Makers Mark, but for regular consumption ET is just dandy.

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  15. I have been drinking mostly single malt scotch, well, I tried early times was amazed at the flavor and smoothness. I like all those whiskies straight up.

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